UK DFID-funded water plant opens in Southern Iraq

A new water filtration unit that will provide daily drinking water for up to half a million more people in Basra is now open. The project in Az Zubayr, which cost £1.25 million, was co-funded by the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). It is one of the final projects of DFID's £42 million Iraq Infrastructure Services Programme which is expected to be completed by the end of the year...

BASRA, Iraq, July 31, 2008 -- A new water filtration unit that will provide daily drinking water for up to half a million more people in Basra was opened today by the Deputy Consul-General at the British Consulate, Fionna Gibb. The project in Az Zubayr, which cost £1.25 million, was co-funded by the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). It is one of the final projects of DFID's £42 million Iraq Infrastructure Services Programme which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Local residents in Basra have to buy their water supply from vendors because tap water is not clean enough to drink. Most of the water these vendors sell is from the petrochemical plant in Az Zubayr. The plant produces clean water by reverse osmosis for industrial processes and sells any excess to the vendors.

Opening the plant, Fionna Gibb said: 'Water is essential for life and something that many people around the world take for granted. Polluted tap water, such as the people of Basra are faced with, is a serious health risk, and in the long term this will need to be addressed through large-scale investments in water networks.

'In the meantime, the majority of Basrawis get their drinking water from street vendors selling from reverse osmosis units such as the one in Az Zubayr. This jointly funded DFID and UNICEF project will mean the vital equipment operates at full capacity, boosting the supply of local clean water and providing enough for an extra 500,000 people each day. This should also bring down the price and make clean water available to more people who live further from Basra.

'I am confident that the Provincial Council will increasingly take the lead in getting much needed improvement in essential services and I would like to congratulate them for their continuing efforts to improve Basra."

The majority of damage to water infrastructure in Southern Iraq arises from a lack of maintenance and investment. DFID's initial focus therefore was to repair Basra's dilapidated infrastructure and restore basic services.

Also see:
-- UNICEF/WHO report calls for more progress on sanitation [31 July 2008]
-- Bringing clean water closer to home -- Ethiopia [26 June 2008]
-- Mind where you go in Sierra Leone [22 May 2008]
-- Better Basra: Getting clean water to southern Iraq [20 June 2007]
-- Southern Iraq's school for leaks [20 March 2006]
-- UK DFID's infrastructure programme in Iraq
-- UN Millennium Development Goals -- Environment, Water & Sanitation

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